Artist Ben Tolman creates incredibly intricate drawings that dig for the heart beneath the hard edges of the built environment. He lives and works in Washington DC. He received his MFA in 2012 from American University and his BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in 2005. He has exhibited work nationally and internationally including being an exhibited finalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
Tolman has focused on the built environment—cities and suburbs, real and imagined, and the effects that they have, for better or for worse, on the people who inhabit them.
Rik Smits is a Dutch artist who works with several media. His large pencil drawings depict cities and landscapes sceneries, sometimes with a realistic attitude and other times with touches of surrealism or a narrative theme.
“My work deals with the relation between religion and capitalism, which is depicted in a scenery of architectural landscapes/cityscapes. These landscapes show the contours of an imaginary city. A city which breathes the human ambition towards power and status. Its large scale buildings reminds us of the industrial utopia’s which prevailed in the human mind, but failed to shine or provide peace and humanity in the real world.The most prominent facet of this city is perhaps its appearance, from which one can easily read that the main ideology of its inhabitants is Capitalism. But this ideology is beginning to manifest itself in a religious manner, and will maybe even become a religion itself.” Rik Smits
Vasco Mourao is an architect and illustrator originally from Portugal who now lives and works in Barcelona. His densely illustrated cities and structures are drawn entirely by hand and while all are of course fictional places, they often incorporate real buildings.
Mourao has an unparalleled eye for detail and underlying structures that has led to a full-time career drawing buildings. He describes himself as having a ‘tendency for obsessive drawings,’ starting with an early focus on horses, but growing to encompass entire cities in his own intricate style.
The imaginary city landscapes of Dutch artist Georg Bohle are carefully drawn in pencil and constructed on extremely large paper sheets, always looking like a work in progress where, given time, the city could eventually occupy all the blank space. He works on metaphors representing the growth of a city and exacerbating the city’s own image.
The artist begins each work retrieving his feelings and memories of when he visited a specific place, ie. Istanbul, Tokyo, Tashkent or many others and/or deeply studying its written and visual history . Uncanny stories and ancient fears may lie under a city’s own image. These underlying worlds, which contrast with the exterior face of an urban ensemble are brought to life by Georg Bohle’s drawings.
Check out the incredible pen and ink drawings by artist, Ben Sack. He draws the dense, intricate details of fictional cityscapes: buildings, roads, rivers and bridges. The architecture found in Sack’s artwork spans centuries, from gothic cathedrals to towering skyscrapers, underpinned by patterns of urban sprawl reminiscent of European cities with a healthy dose of science fiction.
Where do you live?
San Jose, ca. but i like to travel as much as possible.
What do you take pictures?
things i see that make me go “what the fuck thats awesome” but other people jus think its weird. the more dark and out-of -place
things interest me.
What kind of camera do you use?
right now im using a yashica mf-2. ive used a couple other cameras. i wanna get a t4 cuz they look fancy. i seen better pictures with disposable cameras though.
Are you formally trained?
no im not and i dont look down on it either.
What are your influences?
modelos, friends sharing drugs, some friends on flickr, london andrews, hostile east coast people, the mini mansion, the rudeboy mafioso, hate swag movemenlant, ethnic wraps, stubborn san jose people, marbolos, people obsessed with satanic imagery but were baptized catholic, larry david, doug g as christian slater, the last of the paisas, the ifc network, dad bags at the breezy compound, 5 for 3 modelo packs, lances van, sketchy parties, and my mom
Where do you see yourself in five years?
living somewhere cheap. traveling alot more. getting to see my friends as much as possible. more shows in other cities.
What makes you happy?
people gettin loose, doin blow, blacking out, rowdy shows, free drinks, and london andrews.
The sky closed its eye today. For a moment I saw its breath, the fog clearing up and the path in front of me continuing on in endless resplendence. I threw my watch away, tossed it over a nameless bridge while the sun was falling from view. As of this moment I have been walking for an innumerable amount of hours. Time has no use when traveling without rhythm or pattern. I measure each moment in the amount of steps I take rather than the amount of seconds that pass. The road looms and moves long and slurring, a ribbon with unmatched tenor in this or any other moment in my life. I threw my watch over a bridge several hundred paces previous to the events in this sentence. I have been walking, I was walking and I will continue to walk- either until I reach where I am going or until my legs and limbs bleed and I cannot go any farther. If that comes to pass, I will have to wade to my destination, crawling and carrying myself with arms until I reach those streets whose image and name I have studied but have yet to set myself in other than in moments of imagined time and space, the densities of a dream being the things that have carried and brought me here.
I am walking.
I have kept my hands inside my pockets for hours now, continuing to walk, the blood barely circulating through my veins, the cold and its temperatures completely covering me. I feel a sickness washing over me, feel its neck, nape and lips all around me. The woman who I have been imagining comes back to me again, in brief snatches of person- limbs at first, arms, wrists and hands, and beyond that those features of a face before another car drives by me and its lights splash my current reality: I am walking 540 kilometers to get to a city that I have dreamed about since a child, a place whose myth cannot possibly match the one I have built up for it in my head. I see the cities around me, those towns and villages brief on my way and I see them like children congregating in the corners of street and road before getting to the doors and altar of Paris. At times, a person can live off dreams much more easily than reality.
What nameless faces, figures and fugues occupy the mind when it has nothing else to wander on-.
Night now and I have been walking endlessly since Frank dropped me off. Different sets of miles are digested and catalogued by my feet as I’ve begun to find characters and faces in the features of buildings, their architecture, and that other architecture of trees surrounding the path and street.
I crossed the Rhine around nightfall, the sun falling in snatches with patches of light whispering words through the fences of cloud blockading the blue in ventriloquial contusions of movement- unseen strings and vivid color dancing back and forth, as if the fight for day were one battled by clouds contumacious to the spinning of the sphere and the need for night to cover this region of continent and country.
A rain is falling outside my tent and everything that I can see outside is covered in the screen-mesh gauze which lines the entrance/exit of my tent. I try to move my hands but am unable to. Every appendage that juts out from my person is numb- ears, nose, fingers and toes. I can see my breath in front of me and with my breath I try to trace shapes to keep my mind occupied. Dreams have a way of closing in on one’s self, the psyche one of the many endless and endlessly explored hallways of a person. I have been writing every day of my life it seems, however, I have been walking only for one. This was my first night. The stars, when visible behind the clouds, give off an endless shiver of silver, their light reflected in hours’ old reflection of a glinting sun 93 million miles away from where I am and where I am feeling the same amount of distance from the sun from where I want to be. Paris, a few inches away on my map and several hundred miles away. On foot it seems like a destination all at once a mystery writhing and moving; a piece of cloth held by a nameless child whose hands and head are held out the window of a moving car. Cars move by me here just as in that previous sentence’s image and when they do I see their lights like fire- far off they signal out to me, a strange figure walking along the road, and far off further they leave me, going by my back or front side, leaving and pulsing away along the road’s vein at an inexhaustible and ludicrous speed, too fast for my feet to comprehend or ever reach.
I have been walking endlessly and endlessly walking for what seems like forever. It is my second day and all I can think to think of is how grateful I am for Frank who filled my bag with a small amount of rations and food. Upon looking through the bag, I saw a letter from him, covering a small amount of bills and a blade, the both of which gleamed like liquid.
Note: A monolith of roadway that seems as much a wall as it is a flat surface which my feet trudge along upon. I have seen it now, spreading along on the lines and vines of a reality that has since come through in the blight of a mind that cannot stop thinking. It is a breath still lingering on and long, slow slurring and whirring like an endless wind and reverie from a snowless night still freezing in temperature.
The car pulled passed me and stopped. Along the ridge, on the separate lanes spreading out amongst the trees of highway he stopped. I walked towards the vehicle, seeing very little at the time, my eyes blinded and burned, buried under the falling reservoirs that tried and attempted to come through in the vastness of the rain.
He honked once.
I walked up to the window and before I could speak he spoke.
(We’re screaming over the rain right now.)
“Why don’t you get in? You need shelter.”
I thought it over, glanced at the interior of the vehicle and made a decision that ended up changing who and what it is that I was to become after this journey.
He reached over and pulled the handle of the car.
“Come on, you’re getting soaked out here- come in, it’s fine.”
I get in the car.
He begins to laugh and leans over, extending his arm to cover the space behind my headrest.
“Bet you’re surprised that I speak English.”
I hadn’t even thought about it, but tell him yes.
He smiles and begins a long story about his mother and how she always tried to make sure that he knew English, I say nothing and continue to nod as he switches from one story to the next, going graphically into detail about things that his father did to the family before abandoning them. I apologize for no real reason but mean it sincerely. I think of him as a lonely man, one who just needs to talk to someone.
We talk for a brief while and I begin to feel safe in his company. He tells me he’s going a long ways, that he has to go back to his house in the country and that if I want to I can stay there with his wife or when he gets there he could let me out and I could begin walking again. Both seemed fine to me. I decided to decide when we got there and closed my eyes, an action I don’t remember committing but must have done for the next memory and sentence to make sense.
I opened my eyes. The rain was still coming down in small contrails; streams and rivulets of water bleeding and pulsing along the pane of windshield and glass. The car was rocking somewhat heavily. I turned to John who had both his hands on the wheel.
“On the side road- need to take this to get to my house. Don’t worry.”
I wasn’t worried until he told me not to be. A strange emotion- I brushed it off however, realizing that paranoia is something that can destroy a man.
We continued to drive further down the road, winding until eventually reaching a small house.
“Hmm, Lynda must not be here yet.”
He parked the car and turned off the engine, the car shaking itself still, the sounds of the engine purring in harmony with the rain on the roof until stopping. He stepped out and turned to me through the window-
“Watch the mud, it- actually – wait there – I’ll come around to get you.”
I stepped out and closed the door. He came up to me and grabbed me by the shoulders somewhat abruptly and aggressively.
“I thought I said to wait. I don’t want you dirty. Come on, let’s get inside.”
He touched me in a way that seemed to signal what it was that was awaiting me while we walked into that house- a place so foreign to me that it felt like we were the last two people here and the world whirring by outside of us was merely a set for some other film and all the curtains will soon rise and the credits will fade.
Images can remain in the mind forever, premonitions just the same.
We walked the twenty or so feet to his house, the door illuminated by a lone bulb hanging above the faded wood. He keeps telling me how there are no other houses around, how he likes to be here isolated and I begin to realize that there is no Lynda, he has no wife and that I am, as he says, out here alone.
It seemed with every step his body language began to change and his voice dropped. We walked further, thoughts whirring and running by in my head so rapidly that even now they are all I can think of as I recall and recollect these memories.
Strand of thought: The only thing I have to do is keep myself from going inside there and I’ll be safe, as long as I don’t get inside his house, as long as I don’t enter his house I’ll be safe.
I step inside the house.
The door closes slowly behind me and his arm, long and thin, reaches forward for the lamp; thin wires of hair protruding from every pore in a haphazard fractal of direction with wrists moving in circular motions and fingers, twig-like in their lack of flesh, reaching up and pulling the string of the lamp.
Pendular light now invades the room, the lamp and bulb swaying to an unknown meter, the chain clinking with every other movement.
“Take a seat.”
He smiles an unwavering smile, a smile that wont leave his face, a smile and grin that says more than I can put down and a smile that I cannot describe accurately for for me to delve into that memory of that face of that smile would be for me to delve into spaces and regions of thought that have since been buried and extinguished beyond the realm of remembrance.
He pulls out a chair and leans in close to me, his breath being felt on my neck before his utterance of three sentences / statements which I will remember verbatim for the rest of my acknowledgeable existence; every word and inflection suffused with a nonchalance so fully formed in every breath of his that it was beyond eerie, minatory or direful. It felt that I was breathing the same air as all the evils of this world and that all those evils had converged and merged together in the form of this one body next to me.
“You must be tired. Let me show you your room. Best for you to sleep as soon as possible.”
I inhale deeply, deep as I can, and get up with him.
And we walk down a thin hairline of hallway, the corridor stretching through numerous turns and portions of stairway, an Escher-like quest through labyrinthine quadrants, the light leaving my view after the third turn, don’t worry don’t worry he keeps saying, only a few more steps only a few more steps, and we walk with feet shuffling, my hands holding myself up and guiding my walk, I in front and he in back, fuck this is the end fuck this is the end; my hands are running along the surfaces of wall next to me, a hallway too thin for me to stretch out comfortably, still they are there, imagining a place and picture of my surroundings and the fear burning inside me being a feeling all-encompassing until we reach the room and he lights a candle- a flame that burns slow and long, a flame whose ethereal qualities still sing to me and a flame that I watch flicker longer than any other.
I look out the window in back of him: the moon perfectly framed in the pane.
I think of the moon as my mother; the road and destination as some other.
And, though I don’t believe in religion, I begin a prayer.
The candle continues to burn, crying small spheres of wax which harden on the surfaces of floor surrounding us like an ocean of carpet and wood. Our environment is as soundless and vacant as the obsidian hallways that led us here.
He tells me to sleep and I get under the sheets of the bed while gripping the handle of a knife in my pocket, his eyes and gaze sharper than any blade I could ever possess.
Everything about this story is a great read, from the Sunday NY Times this past weekend. We here go by way of the book and Internet, sometimes at the same time. This captures the essence of old world and new world, the new age and the now specialty age together. Read it. Learn it.
By ALICE RAWSTHORN
NY Times Published: January 30, 2011
LONDON — The final page of Joost Grootens’s new book contains a dedication to his two daughters. Sweet, you may think, but hardly surprising, at least until he identifies them as “Step (born between 17 and 18) and Clara (born between 73 and 74).”
The numbers refer to the books he was designing before and after the girls’ births. Like the other 98 books Mr. Grootens has produced in the last decade, they are numbered in chronological order on page 2 of his new book, titled “I swear I use no art at all: 10 years, 100 books, 18,788 pages of book design.” In it, he describes the process of designing each book and the evolution of his career as a designer partly in words, but mostly visually, in maps, charts, grids, infographics, indices and so on.
There are floor plans of every office and design studio that Mr. Grootens, who is based in Amsterdam, has worked in with coded numbers to indicate who sat where. A map of northern Europe shows the cities where he has held meetings, printed books and staged book launches. He has included examples of every typeface he has used, photographs of the binding of each book and coded diagrams of the layouts. Then there are lists of all of the authors, publishers, printers and colleagues with whom he has collaborated.
Clear, elegant and subtle, it is a brilliant summary of Mr. Grootens’s work. As much an information designer as a book designer, he is best known for the award-winning atlases he has produced for the Dutch publishing house 010. By rethinking the kind of information a printed atlas should contain, and creating new ways of presenting it, Mr Grootens has reinvented the old-fashioned atlas to make it useful and relevant in an age when we can call up digital maps instantly on satellite navigation systems and the Internet.
The title of “I swear” describes his design philosophy. It comes from the scene in “Hamlet” when Polonius is trying to convince Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, of her son’s madness. Shakespeare was being playful, since Polonius is nothing if not artful. Whereas Mr. Grootens is deadly serious — he sees no room for art, artistry or any other form of self-expression in book design.
“My role as a designer is purely to solve problems,” he explained by telephone from his Amsterdam studio. “My responsibility to the reader is to organize the content of the book by presenting it as clearly as possible. There is a whole issue of whether it is ever really possible for a designer to be neutral, but it is a good thing to try.”
Mr. Grootens, 39, fell into book design by accident. After studying architecture, he worked in multimedia until a publisher asked him to produce a book version of a CD-ROM he had designed. He taught himself how to do it by scanning and tracing the pages of books he admired. “It felt like coming home,” he said. “I had found exactly what I wanted to do.”
In his essay in “I swear,” Mr. Grootens describes why he finds books so compelling at a time when the Internet trumps them in terms of speed, accessibility and interactivity. “Sometimes the book is the better option,” he wrote. “The quality of the images, the concentration of information and its materiality are all characteristics the book has to its advantage over a computer screen. The designer should exploit these aspects to the fullest.”
Escif, one of our current favorites in the world of all things art, has a solo show at Montana Gallery Barcelona that opens next Thursday, July 29th. It is titled Against the Wall. Escif sent us a few pictures and a message about the show.
“Against the Wall” highlights the need to open doors, imagine ways, open spaces with free accessibility, invent bridges and relationships, in a formal and conceptual way. Tear down walls of the cities, but especially those that limit our heads, our dreams, our wishes. Let it go by intuition and improvisation. Escape the logic and linear reasoning. Scramble to find to set new orders. Questioning the absolute and let be surprised by the magic of the error. Addressing contradictions as transit areas; validate the process as a result and banish arrogance of findings and coordinates.
Exhibition from 30 July to 12 September
Opening Thursday 29 July from 19h30.
CO is a new exhibition space located on the corner of Stinson and Broadway in Northeast Minneapolis, above the former First Amendment Arts gallery. Owned and operated as a partnership between Burlesque of North America and Permanent (an art and design group formed by Joseph Belk launching Mid June), CO presents thematic multimedia exhibitions in collaboration with artists, designers and curators. The space includes over 2000 sq. feet, 20+ ft. high walls, mobile walls, and suspendible ceilings. Other resources for exhibitions include screen printing facilities, artist residences, and media outreach campaigns.
CO’s inaugural year will feature a range of exhibitions, including: the art of Doomtree, a Michael Gaughan – curated celebration of Spinal Tap entitled “Smell the Glove,” work from the Draplin Design Co. featuring acclaimed graphic designer Aaron James Draplin, an installation and series of paintings from Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship recipient Mali Kouanchao, and a mammoth retrospective of ’70s-era blaxploitation film posters.
The name CO was decided with our principles in mind. As a prefix, CO – modifies base words to mean together with, or associated with, and we approach projects in the same fashion. For each artist, designer, or curator who works with us, we are a resource for development, fabrication and talent, a dedicated partner in executing their vision. For us, the excitement is in expanding exhibitions so they transform the gallery into an ambitious multimedia spectacle.
ABOUT FIRST AMENDMENT ARTS
In the summer of 2006, graphic design and screenprinting studio Burlesque of North America moved their operation into a 3000 square foot warehouse space at the corner of Broadway and Stinson in Northeast Minneapolis. The front room of the space housed First Amendment Arts, an award-winning gallery which held monthly exhibits of painting, prints, and photography. Over the course of their four year run, First Amendment featured the artwork of local artists Eric Inkala, Broken Crow, Jennifer Davis and Jenny Schmid, internationally recognized artists Shepard Fairey, Gary Baseman, and Jay Ryan, and musical performances from P.O.S, Chooglin’, Calvin Johnson, Birthday Suits, and Cecil Otter. With plans of organizing even larger and grander art exhibitions, the First Amendment crew has closed its doors and teamed up with Permanent to open up this larger space with the flexibility to allow our artists to create just about anything they can imagine.
ABOUT PERMANENT AND JOSEPH BELK
Joseph Belk for the past year and a half has produced, created, and curated some of the most highly acclaimed conceptual art exhibits in the great city of Minneapolis. Starting at age 26, he has developed installations such as a block long public art project Save Canvas, the follicle-themed screenprinted poster show turned Locks of Love fundraiser Sweet Hair, an exhibit of paintings and multimedia art from Keegan Wenkman and Aaron Bickner about foreclosure and vacancy entitled Final Notice, Keegan Wenkman’s solo art show My Life as a Number, a floating circus of art installations, video projections, and live rock bands all aboard barges set assail on the Mississippi River entitled The Slow Mirror and the Metronome, Tribute to Radio Raheem – the annual hip hop dance party and boombox broadcast celebration with live cassette jockeys, and has continued to be a part of a variety of events like the fine food meets live rock music Gastro Non Grata and Bedlam Theatre art dance party Bomp!
His large scale productions incorporating art, design, music, and interactive elements set all over the Twin Cities have now found a new home and a partner. With Burlesque’s talents and experience in design, publishing, art and gallery success with First Amendment, it seems like a perfect mold for something different. A collaboration full of innovative and progressively approached projects and shows on a local and national level. Now with Joseph’s new young team of collaborators including Edward Quinn and Adam Burchard – Permanent has formed. A full service art and design agency. Focused on the concepts and synergy of both art and design. Self-produced and client-driven initiatives. Utilizing artists, designers, writers, and developers in a malleable process that can easily be grafted onto any project their involved in. This versatility not only makes them capable of working in many different arenas at the same time, but is also a source of inspiration.